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September 2, 2003
 Adam Radinsky, Deputy City Attorney, (310) 458-88327

Jaroslava Liska, the owner of a rent-controlled apartment building at 1711 Delaware Avenue in Santa Monica, last week pleaded no contest to two criminal counts of tenant harassment. The two counts were (1) discrimination based on occupancy by a minor child; and (2) attempting to make a tenant vacate an apartment through intimidation and coercion. Both are misdemeanors.

In May 2003 the Santa Monica City Attorney’s Office filed a criminal complaint against Liska alleging a pattern of harassment and discrimination against a Mexican-American family that rents one of the apartments at 1711 Delaware Avenue. Liska allegedly tried to harass the family into leaving their $654 per month apartment as part of an ongoing effort to rid her building of families with children.

Under the plea agreement with the City Attorney’s Office, made in court on August 28, Liska is placed on three years’ probation and is required to: 

  • Pay $5,530.00 in fines

  • Pay Santa Monica $500.00 for future Fair Housing education

  • Attend a fair housing training program at the Housing Rights Center

  • Pay for an advertisement in the local newspaper promoting Fair Housing

According to the family and other witnesses who gave sworn statements, Liska had forbidden the family’s children from playing outside the building or having friends visit; repeatedly yelled at the mother and her young children to move out and stating that she did not want children living in the building; and tried to coerce the family into signing a new lease that would forbid them from having more children.

The case was brought under Santa Monica’s Tenant Harassment Ordinance. The ordinance prohibits certain malicious acts designed to harass tenants out of their rent-controlled apartments. Local, state and federal law prohibit discrimination against families with children. This includes potential tenants in the application stage; as well as tenants already living in an apartment.

The family and another woman have filed a civil discrimination lawsuit in federal court. The other woman allegedly was denied a vacant apartment by Liska because she has children.

“Landlords need to know that it’s illegal to treat someone differently because they have children,” said Deputy City Attorney Adam Radinsky. “Child discrimination can be hard to prove,” said Radinsky. “But this was the most blatant case we’ve seen in a long time. This landlord just thought she was above the law.”


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